Regular Poem: Amateur Casting Agent

28 Apr

Delta Burke
is already playing you
in the Lifetime Movie of this event
playing out in my mind.

She’s thrashing through the set,
southern accent in Florida hurricane force,
Emmy-winning scenery chewing–
and it’s not just chewing;
it’s full devouring:
mastication, swallowing, digesting–
rambling monologues
strewn over several scenes
picking up and putting down
at jarring angles,
forced haphazardly into
other dialogue
and other scenes
disjointed and mysterious,
nonsensical but somehow satisfying diatribes,
testing the very fibers
of suspension of disbelief,
drawing taut the fibers
of vicarious rage.

By the end
(and you know how Lifetime Movies end:
all Suburbans crashing through bungalows
and women in dark glasses walking away from burning warehouses)
there’s no scenery even left.

It’s just Delta Burke
and the camera’s cold gaze
and a commercial for next week’s
Battered Army Moms at Christmas
or whatever.

But come on, lady.
At least I didn’t cast
Valerie Bertinelli
as you.
Then you’d never have
forgiven me.

But of course
I couldn’t
she was tied up with
Battered Army Moms at Christmas.


Regular Poem: Forgotten Modal Auxiliaries

27 Apr

it sometimes doesn’t even make the list
tragically omitted
leaving a silent but profound hole 

Modal auxiliaries include
may, might, must, can, could, would, should, will, shall,
and blah blah blah grammar;
blah, blah, blah lexical–

i’ve stopped reading the article by now
screaming to the heavens

it’s a perfectly good
modal auxiliary

and we ought to bring it
from whatever ’30s grammar text
it’s been hiding out in
whatever dialogue
in black-and-white westerns
it’s been wearing a fake mustache in

i use it as much as possible
in my own speaking and writing

ought shall make a comeback!
(and so shall
the distinction between shall and will)

i’ll let others
adjectives used in place of
(i like the sound of it too much
real quick
rolls off the tongue
so well
and fits my dialect
i can’t help myself
forgive me
if you can)

i do my best
for our old pal
mostly just avoid situations
in which i’d have to say it aloud
it sounds so silly
people look at you funny
whom are you taking to the dance
ugh so pretentious
i opt for
what person are you taking to the dance
that way i don’t want to take a red pen
to my own naughty mouth
but i also don’t have to sound like a snob

but i ought not worry about that
i mean
i’m already saying ought on the reg
and shall sometimes too
but now that i’m thinking about it
i usually replace shall with am gonna
and use will traditionally

when i taught this stuff
for a living
it was a lot easier
getting away with
sounding different
(that adjective was correct because
the gerund sounding was copulative
see i still know

but now i’m in gen pop
and don’t want to have to explain myself
all damn day
i don’t get paid for that

i ought to do it for free
i will start with ought
(that’s the determinate will
bee tee dubs)
and see what happens

but it ain’t that big of a deal
rules change
language evolves
and people talk and understand each other

and i will use ought
(determinate will again)
because i like it
and i ought
to be able to do
what i want

Regular Poem: Hot Mic

26 Apr

I can think of better
ways to go,
but it’s right up there
in the top ten
being killed heroically foiling a kidnapping
and above
being mauled by a bear.

Her last words were,
“Is anyone else even singing?
All I can hear in my monitor
is my own throaty purr
in a popping void.”

Yes, that’s probably the best way
to go–
the speaker’s frayed wire
or whatever
conducting through
my Quik Trip drink
and lipstick
and I’m ash
and the worship pastor
says a short prayer
and goes on with rehearsal
as the EMTs haul
my still sizzling carcass
out of the sanctuary.

Witnesses say
she went out in a blaze of glory
singing glory to her Maker.
“It’s tragic,” the pianist mused,
“but somehow fitting.”
The combustion was limited
to one monitor stage left
and quickly contained.
Casualties: one alto
who could never remember
when to start singing harmony.

Much better
than being murdered
by NPR.

Regular Poem: MVP: Mystery Soprano

25 Apr

there’s this verdi aria
i’m into right now

it’s so athletic

every time i hear it
i imagine the soprano
in tennis clothes–
you know
the visor and skort and sweatbands and all–
i don’t know what she’s singing about
(love, murder, or masquerade balls
if i know anything about opera
which i don’t)
don’t even know what opera
it’s from
don’t care

i just like hearing
her voice leap and hurdle
and put shot
volley and backhand
make a lay up

in my translation
she’s shit-talking her opponents
making grandiose claims
about her prowess
following through with those claims

she spikes it over the net
celebrates her victory
with a chest bump
gets gatorade poured on her head

there’s also a section
that’s like
the slow motion play back
of the winning touchdown
where she shows off her low register
and it’s just
that growl she does
on her lowest note
is her game face
you don’t even have to see it to know it

you know it’s serious
when a soprano
takes a dive

the whole thing
is just a feat
i’d be so tired just
looking at the sheet music

but i bet she’s got another two acts
before she gets to towel off
and hit the showers

Regular Poem: A Grown Woman

24 Apr

A grown woman
lives here.

She cleans my house,
and she buys me groceries,
and she pays my taxes.

A grown woman
picks out my clothes for tomorrow,
makes my lunch.

She doesn’t make
all my decisions, but
she sees to the

I wish she were more strict,
would punish me more effectively.

But she’s nobody’s mother.
She’s me
on a good day.
And I wish

she were me
more often.

Regular Poem: Self-Help

23 Apr

not even that
i don’t believe it
coming from myself
but i can’t even make myself say it
to myself

i’ll say it
to you
or to her
or to him

you’re valuable
tomorrow’s a new day
you can do this

i’ll say it
to anyone
and mean it

but the words
in my own throat
to my own self
and turn into

you’re valuable-ish
tomorrow’s the same day
you could do this if

i can
look in the mirror
and say
you’re pretty

but that’s almost always followed by
beauty is passing
and charm is deceitful 
a woman who fears the lord

let me be a woman who fears the Lord
make me a woman who fears the Lord
change my heart and
change my mind and
change my thinking and
turn and face the strange

Regular Poem: Frozen Pizza

22 Apr

i know
i couldn’t really skip town
i can’t even
skip my own house
as impulsive as
i can be–
that tuxedo didn’t buy herself, after all–
i’m always talking myself out of
reaching out
branching out
going out

maybe it’s
the very real fear
of buying a tuxedo
maybe a little literally too
that keeps me
to my frozen pizzas

but maybe i like frozen pizza
and maybe i deserve frozen pizza
and maybe frozen pizza is what i know
and what i can see

maybe i am
the frozen pizza
in the icebox
waiting for the oven to heat up

gosh that’s stupid
forget i said that
forget the frozen pizza thing altogether

i could never skip town
i can’t even skip this poem
or that frozen pizza i had for supper

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